Friday, February 13, 2009

The beginnings of Therapy

I remember the day my mom drove me to my first therapy appointment. The counselor I was going to see had an office in her home. I was soooo nervous. After years of avoiding, I was now purposely going to look at things. My first T, we'll call her P, was very nice. I didn't know anything about therapists or what to expect. While she was a great help to me at the time, I don't think I would choose to see her now.

My mom took me into her office. There were soft chairs and couches. P could obviously tell I was nervous, and asked if I wanted my mom to stay for the session. I couldn't speak, but I adamantly shook my head no. The last thing I wanted was to try and talk about anything in front of my mom. She was feeling like such a failure at the time that she didn't know about the abuse to protect me. How could I talk about this painful stuff in front of her? I guess our first session was a typical intake session, except I didn't have that many specific memories at that point, just lots of flashes of things. I was really vague the first several sessions. It's amazing we actually ever got anywhere. I attribute some of this to the fact that about 2 months before I started therapy, I began hearing voices in my head... One voice more prominent than others... it was a child's voice and for some reason the name Julie was always associated with the voice. I seriously thought I was going crazy, and now that I was seeing this therapist, I thought if she found out, I'd be locked up somewhere.

Along the way, I met an amazing person online. She was the same age as me but was a couple of years ahead of me in therapy. We struck up a good friendship and eventually I told her about my "crazy" symptoms. She just laughed and told me I wasn't crazy. She then proceeded to tell me she had DID and what she experienced on a daily basis. I was amazed at how much I could relate to, but for awhile I thought maybe she was just crazy too.

More and more voices came, so after almost 6 months of therapy with P, I finally got up the nerve to tell her about the voices in my head and how they made comments on my life and talked to each other. To my surprise P wasn't shocked at all. In fact, looking back, she didn't seemed surprised at all. I wonder if we'd be exhibiting signs of DID before we told her and she just hadn't called us on it yet? I've never thought about that before. I feel so blessed that my first therapist believed in DID and correctly diagnosed me. She helped me gain a basic understanding of DID and develop safe places internally for scared parts. If I'd known what I was getting into when I started this therapy, I wonder if I would have continued. And if I had known, would I have stayed with P? After 8 months of seeing P and learning a lot about why my head was the way it was, I parted ways with P to leave for college 3 1/2 hours away.

The therapist I was supposed to see once I started college turned out to be an airhead and had no clue what to do with me. I dropped her after 2 sessions. A good friend, who deemed it imperative that I stay in therapy, got a psych teacher on campus to agree to meet with me once a week for free. He is a very good man and an excellent therapist, but I don't think he ever saw me as a client. We met for 2 1/2 years for about 30 minutes, once a week, and didn't really talk about things of significance. Looking back, I think we were both just appeasing my friend.

I did well in school, but continued to decline mentally and emotionally over my first 2 1/2 years of college. I started cutting first semester my freshman year of college and my addiction to that grew as things continued to build inside, and I wasn't finding a good enough outlet.

February 2002 I reached my limit. A girl on my floor in my dorm claimed she had been raped on our campus. (Later she confessed this was a lie. Don't even get me started on that.) This news shattered my world. My safe, small, christian school was no longer safe. We had a dorm meeting that night. The school dean, my dorm mom, and the new teacher/counselor for students held the meeting. Apparently, I dissociated at some point during the meeting b/c the next thing I know this new counselor was on one side of me and my friend (who went and got her) was on the other side of me. It was agreed that I would meet with this new counselor the next day.

My relationship with Dr. M began that evening and would prove to be 2 of the best and most traumatizing years of my life all at the same time.

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